EssaysSex & GenderThe Psyche

Human Trafficking

A psychoanalytic and socio-historical view

I am going to think and write about human trafficking through a perspective both psychoanalytic and socio-historical. In fact, part of my quest and my thinking about this matter is to find the right disciplinary mix to speak from and to. This essay is situated in a problem. It may be an intractable problem. At the very least it is a very difficult one. How is it that there is not the social or political will to fight a social problem of great magnitude, great trauma, and great criminality: slavery in the 21st century? There was an abolitionist movement in the 19th century. Why not now? …

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EssaysSex & GenderThe Left

Anarchism and Feminism: Toward a Happy Marriage?

Some have argued that the marriage between Marxism and feminism ended up in an unhappy marriage: by reducing the problem of women’s oppression to the single factor of economic exploitation, Marxism risks dominating feminism precisely in the same way in which men in a patriarchal society dominate women (Sargent 1981). The oppression of the latter needs to take into account a multiplicity of factors, each with its own autonomy, without attempting to reduce them to one all-explaining source — be it the extraction of surplus value in the workplace or unpaid shadow work in the household. There seems to be something intrinsically multifaceted in the oppression of women — so much so that women’s and gender studies programs are all, inevitably, interdisciplinary ones. …

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EssaysSex & Gender

Chelsea Manning Performing Gender

From the Today Show to the Pride Parade

San Francisco’s Pride Parade will take place on 29 June and will bring together activists for LGBT rights under the rallying cry of “Color our world with pride.” As usual, various officially recognized groups will take part in the march. But this year, among the multicolored sections of the parade, curious onlookers will be able to make out some people carrying a banner bearing an image. Among those marching, some will be there to defend and represent the colors, the figure and the appearance of someone who will be notable by her absence: Chelsea Manning, who will not be able to walk with them.

Locked up in the military correctional facility of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Manning will have served the first months of a 35-year sentence by the time the San Francisco Pride comes around. Why was she imprisoned? …

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EssaysSex & Gender

Immigrant Mothers as Agents of Change

In a recent interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, Elisabeth Badinter bemoans new trends in motherhood emerging in France. The French feminist observes that growing numbers of French mothers — though they are still a minority, she is quick to add — are becoming preoccupied with childrearing practices: they are overprotective, sacrifice too much for the (perhaps largely imagined) good of their offspring, lose themselves in motherhood. Immediately, I thought this sounded a lot like a description of Matka Polka, the archetypal Polish mother — that is until I read the next sentence, in which Badinter concludes that French mothers are becoming more like the German ones. …

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EssaysSex & Gender

Hard Lessons on Rape Culture: Dispatch from Brazil

“I don’t deserve to be raped! No one deserves to be.” These were the words printed on the signs made by thousands of Brazilian women who decided to join a massive online campaign launched through Facebook some weeks ago. The campaign aimed to protest against the highly misogynist views made public in a recent survey conducted by the Institute of Applied Research and Statistics (IPEA). The data showed that 58% of the interviewed either completely or partially agree that if women knew how to behave, there would be fewer cases of rape, 65.1% agree with the statement that “battered women who stay with their partners like to suffer violence,” and 26% of Brazilians agree with the statement “women wearing clothes showing their bodies deserve to be attacked.” …

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EssaysSex & GenderThe Left

Further Reflections on Feminists and the Left

A response to Ann Snitow and Victoria Hattam

“The Women Did It?” by Ann Snitow and Victoria Hattam correctly argues that we need to understand the conflicts and splits of the late nineteen sixties if we are to build a New Left today. Today’s Left is rooted in the decisions and turning points of that time, and it will be hard to build something new until we come to grips with our past. However, Ann and Vicky (for we are all friends) frame the issues wrongly in that they are essentially concerned with blaming and defending. They reiterate that the men of the New Left really were sexist, and that the women of the New Left really had not meant to destroy the New Left in creating women’s liberation. This is not the way to think about it.

To be sure, I would be fool indeed to “blame” women for the demise of the New Left, as Ann and Vicky suggest I do. The women’s movement of the late sixties was akin to a natural force, a great river of emotion and eloquent power; who would blame a river? …

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EssaysRace/ismsSex & GenderThe Left

The Women Did It?

A reply to Eli Zaretsky

We are living through dark times. Many lament the decline of a vibrant Left in American politics; why the right has been ascendant for the past quarter century is a matter worth extensive exploration. Zaretsky’s “Rethinking the Split Between Feminists and the Left,” however, both underestimates the deep roots of the American right and overestimates the power of feminism (Perlstein, Lowndes). In doing so, Zaretsky makes it difficult to rethink the possibilities and obstacles for the Left now. Zaretsky’s account of feminist politics runs amuck because of the ways in which he links feminism with madness and distances it from radicalism and race. Let us untangle the ways in which Zaretsky puts these elements in play in ways that distort past, present, and future.

Let us begin at the beginning — with madness. Zaretsky starts with a fine recognition of Shulamith Firestone (1945-2012), and her work as a radical feminist thinker (The Dialectic of Sex) and activist. …

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EssaysSex & Gender

Sex and the Super Bowl

Gender caricatures,

Every year the issue of gender and sexual stereotyping is highlighted at the Super Bowl and in the minutes of well-famed commercials surrounding the game. Be it macho-football players, sexy cheerleaders, slick, yet still, macho-men in fancy cars, sexy Danica Patrick, macho-beer drinkers, sexy female beer drinkers, static femininity and masculinity are displayed suggesting to us all what kind of men and women we should be.

Following this grand display of gender duality, there is an annual critique of femininity, generally in response to the halftime show, with camps divided between female sexuality as an autonomous choice of empowerment and female sexuality curtailed in consumerism, thus objectifying the participants. …

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